The St. Joseph, Missouri music scene is in trouble. It appears to be going strong but it is in danger of crumbling to the ground at any second. The scene is a tightly knit community but if one key piece of the scene goes missing, everything might just fall apart.
The key piece is Colby Walter. If you see live music in St. Joseph, you have likely seen him perform. Walter bridges genres musically and can pretty much fit in in any band he chooses to play with. He is somewhat of a music savant; he spends more time playing with bands at shows than practicing with them it would seem and the music amazingly doesn’t seem to suffer from it. Over a course of 10 days recently, I saw Walter perform six shows with four different bands. Not only that, I know of at least one other day he was playing during that period that I didn’t see. As for the other three days; I can’t speak of his whereabouts but I’m sure some sort of musical instrument was involved. I should also note that this is not a complete list of all the projects he is involved in, he has played with such acts as Dsoedean, The Motors, The Souveneers, Jamazon Cloud, Aaron Blumer and of course performed solo among others.
Starting on Saturday, January 12th Walter played the role of Jerrad Hardin’s right hand man in the upbeat old-timey folk band The Souveneers. Walter would man both guitar and mandolin on this night. Next was a solo performance where Walter would sing and play acoustic guitar. He would touch on just a couple of original songs but would masterfully work his way through unconventional cover songs that are rare to hear. He would cover The Beatles with songs like “All You Need Is Love” and Bob Dylan with a great readings of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and “Love Minus Zero.” He would also dig deep to cover obscure tunes like The Decemberists’ “Los Angeles I’m Yours” and a Frank Black, of the Pixies, solo song “Sir Rockaby.” One of Walter’s solo songs, “Every Song”, can be seen below. The next night he would be solo at a different bar and work through more originals and more of the Bob Dylan songbook including an obscure Dylan cover of “Motorpsycho Nightmare.”
Next up was his gig with local classic rockers The Motors. Walter plays bass in this outfit and leaves the singing to fellow bandmates Tracey Huffman and Sean Cleary. Their brand of tips of the caps to both the blues and country is supremely done and a local favorite for an older crowd in town. The very next day Walter would play to a younger, hipper crowd with indie rockers Dsoedean. Dsoedean is led by Zale Bledsoe with the accompaniment of Bobby Floyd, Marcus Words and of course Walter. Walter’s usual duty with this band is keyboards and some guitar but in the absence of the bands’ bass player for the night, he would seamlessly play both the bass for the group as well as keyboards, many times simultaneously. The next outing with Dsoedean on the last day of this stretch would be more conventional as he would switch back and forth between lead guitar and keyboards. Below is a video of Walter, on the far right, rocking on guitar with Dsoedean’s “Daylight.”
Colby Walter always exudes a certain confidence on stage that is impressive in itself. That paired with his amazing knack for making music make his performances great every time. The St. Joseph music scene would be in despair without him. If he were to leave the News Press would have to add an extra page for wanted musician listings and bar marquees would be empty across town. It appears he is content to stay though and enjoys playing music for all the right reasons, maybe that is part of why he is so good at it.